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Atari 2600 Reflex

Download a playable ROM and read what others have said about Reflex in the AtariAge forum, view the source code (August 2005 build), or create your own level designs.

What is Reflex?

In early 2004 I stumbled upon the Stella homebrew community, a small group of programmers that writes games for our old friend, the Atari 2600. Intrigued, I sought out and played several homebrew games like Oystron and Flap-Ping (formerly Joust Pong) on emulators and wondered what it took to write such games myself.

I started by reading the Stella Programmers Guide. I was flat out amazed that anyone could possibly write a game on such a primitive platform. (The 2600 has no notion of a frame buffer and has a grand total of 39 bits that represent various pixel on/off states!) The challenge was irresistible. I took crash courses in both the Stella hardware and 6502 Assembly Language, drinking it all up with a sense of urgency — staying up way too late and talking about it at work way too much.

After writing a couple ultra-simple demos, I decided I needed to try my hand at an actual game. Reflex was the result. I even developed an online level editor to let people submit level designs that I might consider including in the final build. (I am no longer accepting new submissions for the ROM, but the editor still works and allows saving.)

The game itself is now complete. I'm currently in the process of putting together final documentation and collaborating on the label/manual artwork for publishing.

This is the official write-up at AtariAge:

Reflex is a new game for the Atari 2600 by Lee Fastenau. It delivers breakout-style action for one or two players in three exciting modes of play! However, unlike other breakout-style games, you control two paddles that move around the playfield opposite each other. This new twist will certainly put your reflexes to the test!

Features include: